Who created the Braille system?

The Braille system, used by blind people to read and write, was created by Louis Braille, born on January 4, 1809, in the village of Coupvray, France.

When the child was 3 years old, he had a serious accident. He hurt his eye in his father’s workshop while playing with an awl and a leather belt.  The wound became infected and he lost his sight in that eye. The infection also affected the healthy eye, so that in a short time the child became totally blind.

Braille was always loved and helped by his relatives, who clearly saw that the child was able and intelligent.

When Louis Braille was 10 years old, he entered the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris. There, the visually impaired learned to play musical instruments and to work in occupations that required manual skills. They were also taught to read by a difficult system of ordinary letters printed in relief. The students read slowly by touch, but writing was very difficult for them.

At that time a military captain named Charles Barbier had created a system of “night writing” based on dots for soldiers to send messages to each other in the darkness. Soon Barbier realized that his system could be very useful for the visually impaired, and in 1821 he made it available to the Institution for Blind Youth. However, the results were not satisfactory at all, since the signs of the system were not easy to read.

In 1825, Braille, who was already known as a bright student in the institution, started to work on the creation of a system of reading and writing also based on dots, but simpler and more complete. In 1829, he published a book with common characters printed in relief, where he explained his system, and in 1837 he presented a second corrected edition.

Blind people gladly accepted this alphabet. At first teachers did not look favorably on this system created by Braille because it was very different from regular writing. However, they soon realized that this alphabet was the best for the blind.

Thus, the Braille System spread rapidly throughout Europe and the other continents, and was adopted in all the schools and centers for the blind.

In 1828, while Braille was still working on his system, he became a teacher at the institution. He taught so well that he gained the respect and admiration of all his students.

The building of the institution was cold, dark and unhealthy, so many of the students who lived there became very ill. Unfortunately, Louis Braille was also affected. At 28 years of age, he experienced the first symptoms of tuberculosis. In 1843, the blind and all the staff of the institution left the old building and moved to a larger, more adequate location. However, Braille’s health had already deteriorated, and he soon had to give up teaching, limiting himself only to giving music lessons.

Louis Braille died on January 6, 1852, but his work has remained. Thanks to him, the blind have an excellent system of reading and writing that has given them access to information and to advancement.